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60 years of WBIR: From Margie Ison to Todd Howell, a look back at Channel 10 weather

WBIR's weather forecasts have set a standard with decades of accuracy and trusted faces.

WBIR's weather forecasts have set a standard with decades of accuracy and trusted faces.

"The trust is not just given, it's earned," Margie Ison said. "It was straight from the heart and always has been."

In the early days of WBIR weather, it was a one woman show.

"When I first started doing the weather, all I had was magnetic weather symbols," Ison said.

Margie signed on the air in 1979, and inspired a generation of people passionate about weather and journalism.

"I wanted to be Margie Ison," said Moira Kaye, a former WBIR anchor. "She was so amazing to me personally and to the viewers. She was just the sparkle in the station."

Margie immediately took the East Tennessee native under her wing.

"When I started filling in, we were actually doing the weather at the World's Fair. I was 21 years old. I watched her every move and tried to be just like her," Kaye said.

Back then, there were no fancy radar graphics or a green screen.

"It was about as low tech as it gets," Kaye said.

"What we lacked in the technology, we made up by being innovative," Ison said. "We had to be very creative."

Margie relied on her deep connection with viewers.

"We went to viewers' homes, and the engineers set up their weather station," Ison said. "That is where I got a big portion of our information until technology got better."

Even without modern technology, Margie's forecasts were spot on. Her reputation preceded her, and people trusted in what Margie had to say.

The technology evolved from magnets and plexiglass, to radar and the Chroma key green screen.

"I was like a kid a Christmas," Ison said. "It was so wonderful to inform the people with our better technology."

As technology grew to become a bigger part of the forecast, so did the weather team.

"It really was a team putting our forecast together," Marti Skold said.

Marti joined WBIR in 1989.

"She came in and she was personable and professional, and people really loved her and identified with her," Kaye said. "She had kids and a family while she was here. She was a working mom just like I was."

"The biggest thing to happen when I was there as far as technology was for us to get the Doppler radar where we could track storms and tell people it's going to be at specific locations," Skold said.

There were plenty of times weather events dominated the news.

"The ice storm back in the 80's. I worked about 28 straight hours and you're never going to believe who came in and filled in for me so I could come home and sleep.... Carl Williams," Ison said.

"It was definitely the Blizzard of 93- the storm of the century," Skold said. "I packed my bags, I slept on the floor at the WBIR weather center. I was there for many, many days."

Just like the first flower of spring, Chief Meteorologist Todd Howell made his arrival after the snow thawed.

"He's exactly the person you think he is on TV," Kaye said.

From past to present, WBIR's commitment to informing viewers about the weather remains as strong as ever.

"I did a lot of things once I left Knoxville, but I will always say that, hands down, WBIR is my favorite place and a part of my heart will always be in East Tennessee," Skold said.

"The viewers are the most important thing and when they invite you into their homes, it's just a huge compliment," Ison said. "It was a wonderful time in my life!"

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